THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court on Tuesday put a stay on further proceedings in all the pending cases of panchayat land grab in Mohali and Rupnagar districts by VIPs and other people. A division bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and Sudip Ahluwalia directed the Punjab government to submit a list of officers with established integrity to whom the task of Collector as well as Commissioner-cum-Appellate Authority under the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961, could be assigned to enforce recommendations of the tribunal headed by Justice (retd) Kuldip Singh.
WATCH WHAT ELSE IS IN THE NEWS
The directions came during the resumed hearing of a bunch of petitions alleging encroachment on panchayat land in Mohali. In two interim reports submitted by the tribunal constituted by the High Court in 2013, it was pointed out that thousands of acres of shamlat (government) land was being grabbed “right under the nose of authorities” by politicians, bureaucrats, police officers and others in about 65 villages on Chandigarh’s periphery.
During the earlier hearing of the case, the Punjab Rural Development and Panchayat Department had informed the court that a total of 1,919 cases of government land encroachments were pending before the court of collector-cum-district development and panchayat officer, Mohali; collector-cum-additional deputy commissioner, Mohali; and commissioner-cum-joint development commissioner (IRD). Most of the cases pertain to villages in Kharar block including Karoran, Parach, Cholta Kalan, Mastgarh, Majri and Sanauli.
The court on Tuesday ordered the state government to prepare a panel of advocates in consultation with its Additional Advocate General Reeta Kohli and amicus curiae senior advocate M L Sareen so as to entrust those advocates all such cases of land grab either filed by the village panchayats or against the panchayats.
The court also directed the state government to submit a list of all such cases which have been filed by different village panchayats under Section 7 or 11 of the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961, by March 14.
The court told the Punjab government to explore the option as to whether the powers of a revenue court could be given to the civil courts to decide title of the land in such cases and for that, there is a need of amendment in the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961.
The amicus curiae had submitted before the court that the state government was reluctant to implement the recommendations of Justice Kuldip Singh Tribunal for the reasons best known to it.
The amicus curiae had suggested that the state authorities should register FIRs and go ahead so that next time people do not dare to indulge in government land encroachments.
The case was posted for next hearing to March 14.